LOHV-NYC, HSUS, HSNY, FoA, IDA, TV’s Rue McClanahan and Grant Aleksander and Broadway’s Nellie McKay call for ban on exotic animal acts

NEW YORK, JUNE 12 – Broadway’s Nellie McKay, Guiding Light’s Grant Aleksander and representatives from the League of Humane Voters of New York City (LOHV-NYC), the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the Humane Society of New York (HSNY), Friends of Animals (FoA) and In Defense of Animals (IDA) will gather on the steps of City Hall on Tuesday to call for a ban on the use of wild and exotic animals in circuses. Council Member Rosie Mendez (D-Manhattan) will introduce legislation to ban wild animal acts at Tuesday’s City Council meeting.

“When forced into captivity and turned into unwilling performers through the use of sharpened hooks and other such injurious implements, these animals suffer tremendously and become a threat to everyone’s safety,” says John Phillips, Executive Director of the League of Humane Voters of New York City. “Not even the Bronx Zoo can provide for elephants’ needs, why should we expect that Madison Square Garden can?” he said, referring to the Bronx Zoo’s recent decision to shut down its elephant exhibit after the death of one or two of its three elephants.

Phillips said his group had asked Mendez to sponsor the legislation and that they were not surprised when she agreed to do so: “Rosie’s working to make the world a more compassionate place for everyone.”

"We can not keep ignoring the treatment that wild animals face in circuses. As much as many people love the circus, this treatment is morally reprehensible and needs to be addressed legislatively,” said Council Member Rosie Mendez, a Democrat who represents the 2nd Council district of Manhattan.

The legislation has already drawn the attention of and support of celebrity residents. "I urge people to support this effort to ban the use of wild animals in circuses. Such ignorant and ghastly cruelty is found only in the usual suspects - who stand in stark contrast to the beautiful creatures they torture," said “Golden Girl” Rue McClanahan.

“I am grateful to Council Member Rosie Mendez for introducing this legislation that will show the world that New York has respect for animals,” said singer/songwriter Nellie McKay, who’s currently appearing on Broadway in the Threepenny Opera.

Grant Aleksander, star of television’s All My Children and Guiding Light, had this to say of the new bill: "Our entertainment does not justify their suffering. These animals deserve better."

"We oppose the use of wild animals in circuses and other traveling acts because of the inhumane treatment that circus animals endure. We also believe that circuses with performing wild animals pose unjustifiable risks to the public,” said Sherry Ramsey, New York State Director of The Humane Society of the United States, adding: “We are thankful to Councilmember Mendez for introducing this bill."

"A civilized society should not condone using helpless animals as pawns for amusement. There is nothing amusing about wild animals spending most of their time traveling and confined. There is nothing amusing about keeping wild animals in environments that don’t even remotely resemble their natural habitats. And there is nothing amusing about the cruel training these animals endure to get them to perform. The time to ban the use of wild animals in circuses is long overdue." Elinor Molbegott, Legal Counsel, The Humane Society of New York.

“I commend the League of Humane Voters of New York City and City Council Member Rosie Mendez for introducing legislation that would ban wild animals in circuses. NYC has an opportunity to be a leader for the rest of the country by abolishing the exploitative and barbaric practice of having wild animals perform for public entertainment. Elephants and other wild animals belong in their homelands, and circuses rob them of the freedom, dignity, and respect that they deserve,” said Edita Birnkrant, NYC Campaign Coordinator for Friends of Animals.

"Elephants, bears, big cats, and other animals used in circuses spend their entire lives in completely artificial conditions. These animals suffer psychological distress when the ability to act out their natural instincts is repressed. New Yorkers want humane entertainment and circuses can prosper without featuring animals, as seen in the national success of ‘Cirque 'Du Soile.’,” said Valerie Sicignano, Northeast Director of In Defense of Animals.

For more information on the League of Humane Voters of New York City, visit  http://www.humanenyc.org or call (212) 889-0303.